- Note: Skip down if your head begins to hurt part way though this.
Dr. Bronner's Soap was invented by Dr. Emanuel Bronner of Escondido, California, Essene rabbi and master chemist to unite the whole human race, lightning-like, in our Eternal Father's great All-One-God-Faith! Enjoy only 2 cosmetics, enough sleep and Dr. Bronner's 'Magic Soap' to clean body-mind-soul-spirit instantly uniting One! Replace half-true Socialist-fluoride poison & tax-slavery with full-truth, work-speech-press & profitsharing Socialaction! All-One! Essene & Chinese birth controls must reduce birth or Easter Isle type overpopulation destroys God's Spaceship Earth! God's law prevents all conception below pH3. So, absolute clean, apply vaseline, oil, butter or cream, insert teaspoonful juicy lemon pulp, pH2. O.K.! Next day, douche with qt. soapy water, pH8, restoring pH5 balance God made! Mohammed's Arabs, 1948, found Israel Essene Scrolls & Einstein's "Hillel" prove that as no 6-year-old can grow up free without the ABC, so certain can no 12-year-old survive free without the Moral ABC mason, tent & sandalmaker Rabbi Hillel taught carpenter Jesus to unite all mankind free in our Eternal Father's great All-One-God-Faith! Warning: Keep out of eye! Do not drink soap! Dilute! Dilute! OK! Help unite mankind, or we're wandering clowns! The mark of the mature man is his ability to work brave, teaching all, every slave, how to replace coal-oil-gas-mineral-nuclear, unemployed-inflation, welfare-waste-war with Essene Birth-Control for very girl, Swiss 6000 year Universal Military Training UMT for full- employment, raising 1 trillion Israel-system trees, 2 million Dutch dikes, 3 Greek mirror-solars, 4 Hannibal windpower plants, 5 billion Amish-Amway-AT&T profitsharing jobs, 6 Milorganite plants, 76 million Planetemples teaching All-One-God-Faith, Austrian music, Babylon roof-gardens, California rain forests, China-bikes, Cartha-UMT, Catspaw sandals, compost tree, CO2 bomber, the Moral ABC, cattle-lemon-Esperanto. Finn-jails, gasohol, German solar-Zeppelins, Health-meat-salt-soap-tape, jojoba-aloevera-chia-ginseng-garlic, Kibbutz, Nature Friends, patents, Swiss economy, Town-Without-Toothache, Patrick Henry teaches PHt's of USA-USSR H20 coop, with 76 million battery-banks, powering every car-factory-farm-home-Milorganite-monorail! We're ALL-ONE! All-one or NONE! Exceptions eternally? NONE!
 Okay, I got that much
If the above lost you completely, Dr. Bronner's Soap is a liquid peppermint soap with weird quasi-religious ranting all over the label (the section above is composed entirely from verbatim passages). It is unclear exactly what his point is, except it vaguely has something to do with uniting the human race into "all-one" by following something called the "Moral ABC". Nobody knows quite what the Moral ABC is, but there are hints all over the soap label: alongside exhortations to familiar virtues such as hard work and self-discipline are references to a weird birth control method he claims came from Essene scrolls; Bible quotes; instructions on how to use his soap in various ways to cleanse the body, mind, soul, and spirit; references to Jesus, Karl Marx, Hillel the Elder, Buckminster Fuller, Rudyard Kipling, and multilevel marketing and profitsharing schemes. Interwoven with all this are frequent allusions to a struggle between "half-truth" and "full-truth" although what Bronner means by those terms is anybody's guess (you may be noticing a pattern here).
"Dr." Bronner was born Emanuel Heilbronner in 1908 to Jewish parents in Heilbronn, Germany. He claimed to be a PhD, Essene rabbi, and "master chemist". He wasn't either of the first two but one supposes anyone who made such good soap could call themselves a master chemist. Bronner emigrated to the U.S. in 1929; his parents stayed behind, and perished in the Holocaust. His wife also died in 1944, around the same time that he received news of his parents. This confluence of tragedy convinced him of the need to spread his plan for world peace. Though he never gained a large audience one particularly enthusiastic follower decided the best way to bring attention to Bronner's message was to have himself crucified, and did so.
In the 1960's and into the 70's, the hippie subculture embraced Dr. Bronner's soaps, mostly for its "far out" labels calling for peace, the fact that they could wash just about everything (their jeans, the dog, the dishes, the VW bus, themselves) with the all-natural soap, and that Dr. Bronner was a real person and not a mascot thought up by an ad agency.
Bronner died in 1997 but his soap had such a cult following by then that it is still made and now a family business run by his children and grandchildren, with the same weird religious messages all over the label. The company says these labels will only change as required by law, and their web site helpfully provides links to enlarged versions of the labels so that you too can "work hard to be perfect pilot-provider-builder-trainer-teacher-lover-mate, no half-true hate!"
 The verdict
Mostly harmless. And it's something to read in the shower.
People like this who make at least a little bit of sense go on to become the next L. Ron Hubbard. Those who don't make any sense at all like Bronner just go up into the California hills to make soap for a living and people read the labels for the lulz.
Bronner was actually a pretty decent guy. Underneath all the craziness his messages focus on positive things like forgiveness, universal brotherhood and helping others to do their best. He also espoused what he called "constructive capitalism" which says it's fine to make money (he claimed a net worth of $6 million) as long as you share with your employees and the larger community. Bronner and his company have donated lots of time, money and even over 1000 acres of forested mountaintop land worth well over a million dollars to children's charities, and he was big on sustainability, fair trade and treating workers well. After his death his children (the current owners) carried on in his footsteps, donating money and labor – and of course many crates of soap – to educational projects and other worthy endeavors around the world. The company is a worker owned co-operative where the CEO can't make more than five times the salary of the lowest paid worker, and his family is proud of that.
For the record, it is a very good soap. It builds mountains of lather from just a few drops and cuts grease like none other. It also comes in bar form and several scents other than peppermint. At any rate, admit it: you probably would not have bought this soap without reading this article first.
Sara Lamm's documentary on the man, his soap, and his legacy, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap Box, was released in 2006, and is available on DVD.
 Hemp activism
Adding to the soap's popularity, the company funded and coordinated litigation against the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) when an attempt was made to make the importation of hemp oil and seeds illegal (Hemp oil is a major ingredient in the soaps). The Ninth Circuit Board of Appeals ruled against the DEA on 6 February 2004. David Bronner, the good doctor's grandson, is on the Board of Advisors for the Hemp Industries Association.
 Minor problems
You may want to use a second empty bottle and dilute the liquid soap before you use it, unless you enjoy smelling like a breath mint.
Female Rationalists should note that his birth control method is considered ill-advised. The lemon juice will irritate and perhaps burn your insides. And the peppermint variety of Dr. Bronner's soap can sting your "sensitive areas."
 See also
- Essay:Dr Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap
- Time Cube – similarly incomprehensible nonsense, though the author of this one doesn't appear to have Dr. Bronner's "nice guy underneath it all" angle.
- ↑ Except when it's a bar.
- ↑ Except when it's almond, rose, eucalyptus, "citrus orange", lavender, tea tree, or unscented "baby mild".
- ↑ Interestingly, he dropped the "Heil" from his surname in response to the rise of Hitler.
- ↑ "Crucifixion" Believed Stunt To Publicize Utopian Scheme, The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL), March 10, 1945. "Police Capt. Patrick O'Connell said that in 30 years of police work he had 'never seen anything like this.'"
- ↑ Along with a line of all-natural conditioners, lotions and balms.
- ↑ The labels for the bars unfortunately lack Bronner's messages, though the bars themselves have ALL-ONE! stamped into them.
- ↑ Dr. Bronner's Philosophy on Quart Label Blow-Ups
- ↑ Or as one article put it, Bronner was "as mad as a box of frogs, but a good box of frogs."
- ↑ If you've read this far, you will not be surprised to learn that the company's registered legal name is All-One-God-Faith, Inc.
- ↑ Next To Godliness. The Sun Magazine
- ↑ That would have been Bob Marley's 54th birthday, mon!
- ↑ http://www.votehemp.com/legal_cases_DEA.html
- ↑ http://www.thehia.org/board_of_directors.html
- ↑ Why the weird religious ravings on Dr. Bronner's soap? (The Straight Dope, 1998-04-22)
- ↑ Review :: Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soaps